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News / Clark County News

From the Newsroom: A new way to see our top stories

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: March 18, 2023, 6:02am

For an industry that is hundreds of years old, newspapers sure change a lot. Just in my career, I’ve seen the advent of direct-to-plate printing, digital photography and using email and the internet as essential news gathering tools.

One of the things that has changed the most in the last decade or so is our approach to creating newsletters and curating online content. One of our early efforts was Morning Press, which appeared on columbian.com, illustrated with a photo showing a computer tablet, a cup of coffee in a Columbian cup and a French press coffee pot.

We posted Morning Press on Saturdays. If you clicked on it, you would be directed to a curated list, put together by the copy desk, of recent local stories that were well-read online or especially interesting.

Today we’re debuting a similar but improved feature. Gone is the photo of Web Editor Amy Libby’s coffee pot, replaced by a new Saturday newsletter and article called Top Stories.

Top Stories will feature the same type of content but in an improved format that is easy for readers to scan.

Most importantly, it will also be available as a free email newsletter, similar to our wildly successful Morning Briefing, which comes out Monday through Friday. Top Stories will be our eighth newsletter! If you haven’t signed up for some of these, visit www.columbian.com/newsletters. There is no charge to receive our newsletters, but our usual limits of free story views for nonsubscribers still applies.

An update on comics

We’re still getting feedback on our selection of comics after we dropped “Dilbert” because its creator, Scott Adams, made outrageous comments on social media. Adams’ syndicate dropped him, too, so we couldn’t continue to buy “Dilbert” even if Adams continues to produce it.

We’re still testing “Big Nate,” which we chose as his successor. A segment of our readers are very passionate about comics, so we don’t want to rush into decisions. We’ll have some final ideas about what to do about comics sometime this summer.

The feedback we’ve received shows that at least 20 different strips have some local fans, but so far there isn’t one standout strip that everyone thinks The Columbian should carry. Based on this, and our experience when we have changed strips in the past, I don’t expect we can please everyone. We do hope to continue offering a balance of comics so that everyone can find at least a couple of strips they like to read.

News Editor Merridee Hanson and I were chatting about the comics and how so many of the strips have been around for a very long time. “Peanuts,” for example, debuted in 1950 and has been in reruns since 2000, when its author, Charles M. Schulz, died.

Some other classic strips appearing in The Columbian that have been around for generations: “Blondie,” since 1930; “B.C.,” 1958; “The Family Circus,” 1960; “Hagar the Horrible,” 1973; and “Garfield,” 1978.

By the way, the oldest newspaper comic strip currently being produced for syndication is “Gasoline Alley.” It started in 1918, and was first published in the Chicago Tribune.

Going cruising

As I have mentioned a couple of times, my favorite thing about Vancouver’s cold, rainy winter is enjoying a cruise to someplace warm. I’m very pleased to say that unless my plans have changed, today I’m on my way to a nice warm cruise sailing across the equator. (If you haven’t done this, there’s a very interesting tradition that involves “pollywogs” being inducted into King Neptune’s Court. Luckily, I am a shellback.)

I’ll plan to write my next column in a few weeks, after I get back.